This flint retouched flake is from England. It likely dates to the Neolithic period, ca. 9000-5000 BP.
The artefact is curated by the Australian Institute of Archaeology, catalogue no. IA24.163.
This retouched flint flake was struck directly behind a scar created by the removal of a prior flake from the same platform. The concave dorsal surface gives the flake a distinctive ‘gull-wing’ profile. The concavity in the dorsal platform edge shows very heavy microflaking use-wear towards the dorsal surface, suggesting that this edge was used for scraping cylindrical object, perhaps made from wood or bone. The technique used to make this flake was unusual, but broadly-similar flake removal strategies emerged independently in Australia (the gull wing method for making Tula adzes), Japan (the Setouchi technique for making Kao knives), and south-central Texas (’sequent flake unifaces’ of the Early Archaic period). Replication of the gull wing method for making Tula adzes has shown that there is a high risk in splitting the flake in a siret fracture because significant mass is located to either side of the point of force application, which exacerbates the bending stresses acting on the flake. This requires careful calibration of the hard-hammer blow to detach a complete flake—just enough to initiate the fracture, but not so much that bending stresses cause the flake to split. On this artefact, this careful calibration is suggested by features on the ventral surface. Two Herzian cones are present from previous removal attempts which were not quite strong enough to prevent the crack from stalling. The third blow was a little harder and successfully detached this flake. The lateral edge and part of the distal end of the flake was retouched towards the dorsal surface.
See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.
During the Mesolithic period, Britain was connected to continental Europe by the land mass known as ‘Doggerland’. Doggerland flooded ca. 8200-8500 years ago, isolating the population there, who continued subsisting on hunting and gathering until the arrival of Neolithic farmers from Europe ca. 6000 BP, about 1000 years after they spread across Europe. A 2019 analysis of ancient DNA suggest these people were related to people in Iberia, who themselves came into Europe around the Mediterranean coast from a hinterland on the Aegean Sea. The Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were genetically replaced by these newcomers. A second wave of immigrants arrived ca. 4000-4500 BP, called the Bell Beaker culture, with DNA ancestry related to Yamnaya pastoralists who invaded Europe from the Western Steppe. Yamnaya ancestry composed about 90% of the genetic profile of subsequent populations in Britain ‘within a few hundred years’ after their arrival. The arrival of the Bell Beaker culture in Britain signals the beginning of the Bronze Age and the end of the Neolithic.